Foundation News During COVID-19

An Update from Chris Simoneau, Chief Foundation and Development Officer, Lee Health

July 21st, 2020

Friend of Lee Health,

I’d like to give you an update on where things stand at your health system as of July 21. Over the last few weeks we’ve experienced a surge at Lee Health, seeing unprecedented volumes across our system. Today, we have 370 COVID-19 positive patients in our facilities. This is close to the most we’ve had since our first patient was seen in early March.

To manage the volumes of patients, two of three floors of our Gulf Coast Skilled Nursing Unit have been converted to a 48-bed COVID unit and we are in the process of converting the third floor for an additional 24 beds.

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Additionally, we have a census of more than 1,300 patients in our acute care hospitals, which is 100% of our staffed bed capacity managed under the operation of our limited summer staff as seasonal traveling nurses, doctors and support personnel have gone north until fall. This puts additional stress on our frontline healthcare heroes.

Lee Health is committed to serving the community, and we are taking care of every individual who walks through our doors. We want to get them healthy and home to be close to their families. We have experienced loss alongside some families. Every single patient and every loss is a person to us, not a number. They are parents and grandparents, brothers and sisters. We care about every single one of them.

The light in all of this is that our mortality rates are declining. Length of stay in our hospital is also declining, and new therapeutics are helping our patients recover better. We are seeing better outcomes in patients.

I want to thank you. We can’t support all of these patients and families without your help. We are extremely grateful for all the donations: funding, PPE, meals for our healthcare heroes, and so much more. Donations from our community are being used for employee meals and relief, additional lab equipment for COVID testing, iPads for family/patient communications, PPE (including masks for visitors), and to set up testing locations.

I ask you to continue to support us, to support the doctors and nurses who are wearing PPE for 10, 12, 14 hours a day – looking out for our neighbors. We need your support, we need your prayers, we need you to take forward the message that we can do better. Mask, social distance, and hand wash, so that we can take care of each other.

Good things are happening. We will get through this together.  We are grateful for all you’ve done and the need for your support continues.

I encourage you to visit our website or LeeHealth.org for the most up-to-date information. If you’d like to give me a call, I’d love to hear from you.

Sincerely,

Chris Simoneau
Chief Foundation and Development Officer
Lee Health

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A Letter from Chris Simoneau, Chief Foundation and Development Officer, Lee Health

June 3rd, 2020

Friend of Lee Health,

On behalf of Lee Health, thank you for the many notes, calls, emails and texts in support of the hospital throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Your continued support, both financially and spiritually, have been a blessing to all of us in the health system. We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of support that our community has provided, especially for our healthcare heroes on the frontlines of the pandemic.

Many of you have inquired about Lee Health’s status, and I hope to shed some light through this letter. If there is anything additional I can provide you, please let us know here in the Foundation.

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Our first patient arrived on March 4th, though we did not know that she and her husband were positive until Friday, March 6th, which is also when she unfortunately passed away at Gulf Coast Medical Center. These two patients were exposed through a trip to the Dominican Republic. On that date in March, the heartbeat of our hospital system changed forever.

We responded briskly across many fronts. All events were cancelled. The incident command center, which only typically assembles for major disasters like hurricanes, was opened and has continually operated for the past 90 days. Daily conference calls share information from across the system, including daily patient census, updates on facilities’ changes, needed IT adjustments, national and global pandemic news and data, treatment protocols, interaction with the county and state Emergency Operations Centers, and much more. More than 100 people join the call every morning to formulate the strategy to address the pandemic.

In the hospitals, visitation was severely restricted. Personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, gloves, gowns, face shields, etc. were impacted as supply chains shut down and competition rose. Prices skyrocketed. Floors in the hospital were established as COVID cohort units to isolate patients showing symptoms. Testing changed dramatically as new tests emerged which required new equipment and protocols. Food and nutrition service was modified, both for patients and for staff. Tents were established to triage patients before they entered the emergency departments. Everyone, and everything, became focused on taking care of patients with a novel virus and no proven treatments.

The crisis affected other services as well. Elective surgeries were shut down, and the number of visitors to the emergency rooms dropped in half. Sick people were staying home rather than seeing a doctor. We needed to close facilities, both to protect our stock of PPE as well as to adjust to a reduced volume of patients. We converted our Lee Telehealth to a free service, and use of telemedicine services skyrocketed. In the past few weeks, we’ve provided well over 1,500 telemedicine visits per day. Consumers started to change their habits and the system is responding.

Like other businesses, these changes have had major implications for the business operations of Lee Health. Revenues in the second half of March plummeted, and fell even further throughout April. Expenses remained high as we dealt with increased PPE costs, incentive pay for COVID frontline workers, food and nutrition costs for staff, purchasing of additional ventilators, modifications to information technology infrastructure, and costs for tents and testing centers throughout our region. We tried everything to protect our outstanding staff in the midst of a global health and economic crisis, believing that our people are the best assets in helping us get through this. In the months of March and April alone, the system lost $86 million in contribution margin.

Lee Health Foundation pivoted as well. We launched an online event for SanCap Cares, which yielded more than $400,000 for pediatric neurosurgery. We became the go-to place for PPE and food contributions to the system, receiving more than $500,000 worth of in-kind gifts over a six–week period. We launched the SWFL Stronger Together campaign with NCH to show the Southwest Florida community that its healthcare leaders are working closely to address the pandemic. This campaign has generated more than $1 million in gifts since inception, and recently transitioned to the SWFL “Safer” Together campaign to encourage people in our community to seek and receive the healthcare they need. We have sought out new sources of grant funding, launched several direct mail campaigns, worked closely with our marketing and communications colleagues to actively tell the story of our healthcare heroes, and began the Kids’ Minds Matter Mental Health Mondays virtual series to address a major issue related to quarantine and self-isolation. We reached out to donors across the country to stand with them, and to provide support wherever possible.

We continue to evaluate costs, and our Foundation and the system have taken great steps to bring our expenses back in line with our new revenue projections. We’ve eliminated travel, scaled back consulting agreements, eliminated unnecessary capital investments, closed offices temporarily, froze hiring, increased telecommuting, cut salaries and benefits for leaders, and rolled out 15 different labor savings strategies. We’ve offered both paid and unpaid leave for team members to deal with personal or family health issues, including the added burdens of caring for children and elderly in their homes. We’ve sought (and received) governmental funding through the CARES Act to help offset the losses we’ve endured, and we’ll continue to right-size our operation for months to come.

This pandemic will change the way healthcare is consumed and delivered. Lee Health is adapting, but our mission and vision remain as strong and relevant as before. We want a healthy community receiving world-class care, so that everyone can enjoy their best possible lives.

You have long been a part of making that vision possible, whether you support children through the Golisano Children’s Hospital, our Regional Cancer Center, one of our five hospitals, or even your personal doctor. You share our mission, vision and values and you want us to be better coming through this. I wanted to tell you directly how deeply grateful we are for your ongoing support, and how touched I personally am by your caring and generous spirit. We are stronger together. In fact, we are #LeeHealthStrong, and I’m proud that you’re a part of this outstanding team.

Thank you again for your support to all of us at Lee Health. You are changing patients’ lives for the better every day, and we are eternally grateful.

Sincerely,

Chris Simoneau
Chief Foundation and Development Officer
Lee Health

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Lee Health and NCH report healthcare campuses safe and fully operational amid reopening of public spaces in SWFL region

May 21, 2020

SWFL Safer Together Campaign Encourages Continued Safety Protocols and Regional Return to Normal Health Care Practices by Community 

As Southwest Florida reopens public spaces and activities, the Southwest Florida region’s healthcare leaders Lee Health and NCH Healthcare System (NCH) continue to work together on regional efforts to combat the challenges and effects presented by the COVID-19 pandemicSince March, the nonprofit organizations have been leading the “SWFL Stronger Together” campaign to combat COVID-19 regionally while encouraging community support of frontline heroes through safety compliance and donations. 

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Today, Lee Health and NCH announced the next phase of their collaboration with the SWFL Safer Together campaign, reflective of the region’s transition to safely reopen after flattening the curve on the coronavirus pandemic. They are asking the Southwest Florida community to join them in taking continued safety precautions, returning to best, most effective health care practices, and continuing to provide support through donations.  

We are your healthcare leaders and we want to continue to be your first resource for information and prevention. We are here for you,” commented NCH Chief Executive Officer, Paul HiltzAs we navigate further into these unprecedented times, we must adapt to a new normal. Shops, beaches and restaurants are all opening up.  However, we must continue to follow the guidelines shared by the CDC to continue to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. So, as you begin to ease into public spaces, please be mindful of your surroundings and continue to practice all safety protocols.  

Amongst such protocols, the healthcare systems stress continued practices of safe physical distancing by remaining at least 6 feet apart, wearing face masks out in public to help keep everyone healthy and safe, and washing hands multiple times throughout the day for at least 20 seconds each time as a best defense. 

The two healthcare systems also urge community members to return to their normal healthcare practices, not to delay seeking medical help with concerns or further delaying routine checkups. 

Thanks to you and all your hard work, we’ve flattened the curve on the coronavirus pandemic and now we’re on to the next phase,” said Dr. Larry Antonucci, CEO and President, Lee HealthAnd because of all the precautions our systems have taken, we are in an excellent position to provide top-of-the-line patient care to the Southwest Florida community. Our hospitals and healthcare systems are fully operational and safely serving our community. We have plenty of personal protective equipment and we are prepared for emergencies, surgeries, physician visits, lab draws, x-rays and much more. 

There is still a great need for support from the communityMonetary gifts through this campaign help to maintain reserve supplies of personal protective equipment for employees, patients and visitors, as well as other necessary equipment to continue the fight through testing and diagnosticsIn-kind donations such as giving blood, homemade masks and meals continue to provide relief and boost the morale or our healthcare heroes. 

 

In taking the next steps forward in the fight against the coronavirus, both healthcare systems have begun serology testing, which shows the presence of COVID-19 antibodies in a patient’s blood and helps to understand how the virus has spread in the region. Serology testing requires an order from your physician, and the tests can be drawn in physician offices or at our Lee Health and NCH Labs. The health systems are also looking for people to donate blood for the Mayo Clinic COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Study. If you have (or someone you know has) previously tested positive for COVID-19, your symptoms resolved, and you later tested negative for the virus, please consider donating blood. Your plasma may contain antibodies that may help someone fighting COVID-19 recover faster.  

For more information or to make an online donation to SWFL Safer Together, visit SWFLtogether.org.  

About Lee Health  

Since the opening of the first hospital in 1916, Lee Health has been a health care leader in Southwest Florida, constantly evolving to meet the needs of the community. A non-profit, integrated health care services organization, Lee Health is committed to the well-being of every individual served, focused on healthy living and maintaining good health. Staffed by caring people, inspiring health, services are conveniently located throughout the community in four acute care hospitals, two specialty hospitals, outpatient centers, walk-in medical centers, primary care and specialty physician practices and other services across the continuum of care. Learn more at LeeHealth.org. 

About NCH Healthcare System 

The NCH Healthcare System is a not-for-profit, multi-facility healthcare system located in Naples, Florida, and is a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network. The System is more than just two hospitals (referred to as the NCH Baker Hospital and NCH North Naples Hospital) with a total of 713 beds. NCH is an alliance of 775 physicians and medical facilities in dozens of locations throughout Collier County and southwest Florida that offers nationally recognized, quality health care to our community. Our mission is to help everyone live a longer, happier, healthier life.  For more information, visit www.NCHmd.org. 

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CARES Act Offers Benefits for Nonprofit Support

April 24, 2020

While we are constantly bombarded with bad news about the impacts of COVID-19, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed on March 27, 2020, has good news: provisions to encourage support of Lee Health and other nonprofits providing critical services in response to the global pandemic.

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The CARES Act provides additional tax benefits for nonprofit donations for individual taxpayers whether they take a standard deduction or itemize, corporations, retirees and donors who sell depreciated stock and make a cash gift from the sale.

Donors to nonprofits in 2020 can receive tax benefits for 2021 tax filling, including support of SWFL Stronger Together fund that helps provide critical resources, equipment and supplies for our medical teams on the frontline of fighting the pandemic.

Read more about CARES Act benefits and how you can support SWFL Stronger Together here.

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Revised Office Hours

April 2, 2020

In order to maintain proper physical distancing protocol and keep our staff and community safe, we have reduced our office hours from 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Monday though Friday. We will be accepting PPE donations from 10 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. but ask all donors to please call or email in advance to ensure appropriate team members can plan ahead for your arrival. Our team is doing what we can to maintain foundation office functions while also helping our frontline team members safely combat COVID-19.

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To contact a foundation team member, please email Foundation@leehealth.org or call 239-343-6950.

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Supplies Needed to Support Frontline Workers

March 24, 2020

We are grateful to everyone who has reached out to us to support our healthcare providers. We are currently accepting donations of the following supplies to keep our staff and patients safe:

• N95 Respirator and Surgical Masks • Eye Protection • Disinfectants • Gowns • Gloves

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To view a complete list, click here.

Supply donations to support Lee Health can be delivered to:

Lee Health Foundation
‪9800 S Healthpark Drive, Suite 405
‪Fort Myers, Florida 33908

We ask that donors please call (239) 343-6950 to coordinate delivery as the office hours have been reduced during this time.

In addition to supplies, we are in need of monetary support to continue to meet the needs of our community. Gifts to the SWFL Stronger Together fund will provide critical resources, equipment and supplies to support doctors and nurses at Lee Health and NCH Healthcare System. Donations will help provide additional ventilators, protective gear, mobile units, employee relief and more.  For more information or to make an online donation to SWFL Stronger Together, visit SWFLtogether.org.

Thank you in advance for your help.

#SWFLstrongertogether
#SWFLtogether

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Lee Health and NCH Healthcare System team up to combat COVID-19

March 19, 2020

SWFL Stronger Together Campaign Encourages Support Amid Healthcare Pandemic

FORT MYERS, Fla. (Mar. 19, 2020) – The Southwest Florida region’s healthcare leaders Lee Health and NCH Healthcare System (NCH) have joined efforts to combat the challenges presented by the current pandemic COVID-19. These nonprofit organizations are on the frontline of the crisis serving the community and collaborating on all fronts, sharing policies, action plans and daily media updates, coordinating outreach efforts including drive through testing sites to better serve the region, working together to limit non-urgent surgeries, and completing joint Continuing Medical Education (CME) training for team members.

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Today, Lee Health and NCH announce the “SWFL Stronger Together” campaign. This campaign is representative of the work that has and continues to take place, and the collaborative relationship that exists. Together, Lee Health and NCH are asking the Southwest Florida community to join them, to come together and show support. Gifts to the SWFL Stronger Together fund will provide critical resources, equipment and supplies needed to support our doctors and nurses. Donations will help provide additional ventilators, protective gear, mobile units, employee relief and more.

“We’re delighted we are able to continuously explore new and innovative ways that our two healthcare systems can strengthen healthcare in Southwest Florida and better serve our community,” commented Dr. Larry Antonucci, President & CEO of Lee Health. “During this time where COVID-19 has no borders, our organizations have collaborated in unprecedented ways. The Lee Health and NCH teams have fully embraced the concept of collaboration and community. We are stronger together, and SWFL will benefit greatly from our systems continuing to work together.”

“During this challenging time for our communities, we appreciate the collaboration with our healthcare systems, including Lee Health,” said NCH Chief Executive Officer, Paul Hiltz. “Now is the time for all of us to pull together to make a difference for our family, friends and neighbors as we continue to care for our community. We appreciate your support. We are all stronger together.”

The healthcare systems also shared a need for blood donations. Community members can arrange to donate blood by calling Lee Health blood centers at 239-343-2333 or NCH Community Blood Center at 239-624-4120. Donating blood takes about 45 minutes and is a good way to help, as well as show support for our region’s doctors and nurses who are on the frontline.

For more information or to make an online donation to SWFL Stronger Together, visit SWFLtogether.org. Resources through this site also include free telehealth information, hotlines, COVID-19 news and updates, as well as an “Ask the Experts” forum.

About Lee Health

Since the opening of the first hospital in 1916, Lee Health has been a health care leader in Southwest Florida, constantly evolving to meet the needs of the community. A non-profit, integrated health care services organization, Lee Health is committed to the well-being of every individual served, focused on healthy living and maintaining good health. Staffed by caring people, inspiring health, services are conveniently located throughout the community in four acute care hospitals, two specialty hospitals, outpatient centers, walk-in medical centers, primary care and specialty physician practices and other services across the continuum of care. Learn more at LeeHealth.org.

About NCH Healthcare System

The NCH Healthcare System is a not-for-profit, multi-facility healthcare system located in Naples, Florida, and is a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network. The System is more than just two hospitals (referred to as the NCH Baker Hospital and NCH North Naples Hospital) with a total of 713 beds. NCH is an alliance of 775 physicians and medical facilities in dozens of locations throughout Collier County and southwest Florida that offers nationally recognized, quality health care to our community. Our mission is to help everyone live a longer, happier, healthier life.  For more information, visit www.NCHmd.org.

Media Contacts:

Pat Dolce, Lee Health Strategic Communications/Public Relations, Pat.Dolce@LeeHealth.org, (O) 239-343-8370, (C) 239-989-2758

Shawn McConnell, Marketing & PR Coordinator, NCH Healthcare System, Shawn.Mcconnell@NCHMD.org, (O) 239-624-3974

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Lee Health Foundation Event Update

March 13, 2020

Dear valued partners of Lee Health,

As our team is working together during the public health emergency of COVID-19 to ensure everyone in our health system and our community is kept safe and informed, Lee Health Foundation has updates and resources to share with you.

Increased safeguards are going into effect world-wide to reduce the spread of coronavirus, and we too are leading by example. Taking precautions to protect our supporters, colleagues and families, the following events have been postponed until further notice:

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If you planned to attend one or more of these event, we understand you may also have questions. More information will be available in the coming days. If you have questions about an event, please visit LeeHealthFoundation.org/Events.

Everyone can help prevent the spread of infectious diseases, and resources are available to keep you informed and your families safe. Lee Health is updating LeeHealth.org/public-health continuously as new information becomes available. We are directing the community to utilize this webpage for the latest information, for access to complimentary Lee TeleHealth services, and to ask our Infection Prevention Team questions you have – look for the “Ask the Experts” section.

Additionally, to further prevent unnecessary spread of COVID-19, Lee Health is temporarily limiting visitation based on CDC and FDOH recommendations.  This applies to all hospital campuses, outpatient testing facilities and LPG facilities. For more information visit, LeeHealth.org/public-health or call the Florida Department of Health Hotline at 1-866-779-6121. The call center is available 24/7.

This is a difficult time for all. Please take care. Our team is here for you, and we will be in touch.

Sincerely,

Chris Simoneau
Chief Foundation and Development Officer
Lee Health

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